Its quite interesting that one needs to bridge the gap between where they are today and explore uncharted territories to become what they always wanted to be.

Multiple times we are told that the one needs to come out of their comfort zone to do things that make a difference, first to their own lives and then to others.

I learned swimming in the last few years. That is well into my mid 30s. Despite the fact that I spent a good one full year in Hawaii, the fear of drowning always kept me away from both the fun of water sports and also from a wonderful full body exercise of swimming.

I thank the swimming coach you helped me in crossing the summit of fear with swimming. Now, I can easily do full Olympic pool size laps without fear or hesitation.

In the process, I learned a wonderful water exercise in swimming as well.

So one should not fear the limits, but find ways to mount them. There is victory beyond it.

#Job #Hunting in the #Jungle?

Photo Wallpaper Jungle Animals - For children - Wall Murals
Image Source: Link here

If one goes to the LinkedIn feed these days, one finds a lot of updates about people moving across organizations. After the second wave of Covid in India, one can see that the hiring has really picked up again. People are exploring new options and this is certainly keeping a lot of talent acquisition staff members really busy.

The trend encouraged me to research a little bit on this.

I studied the posts appearing on my LinkedIn feed in 50 touchpad strokes, for scrolling. One touchpad stroke is the upward strike on the laptop touchpad while on LinkedIn feed page, to move to the next page on the feed.

I found that at least in my network, on a weekday, there are 3 announcements of job changes. It drops to 1 on Sundays. I have a network of 5000+ on LinkedIn. In a month, it means that 60-70 people are changing their jobs. With multiple changes in the LinkedIn algorithm recently, I don’t know how good a metric is this. But it still looks like a significant number to me.

I infer that the job market is really hot at the moment.

With so much of data easily available, I decided to do a qualitative study on the experience of some of my friends in the network who recently changed their jobs.

The idea was to find out –

  1. How was the virtual interviewing experience, assuming that people are still sane enough to not insist on physical interviews?
  2. What was the interview process? For tech and data related jobs, there is always the discussion of coding vs non-coding evaluation.
  3. How was the TA engaged with you in the process?
  4. What did you find different from the earlier such experiences in your career?
  5. Were you satisfied with the outcome?
  6. And a few more…

While the overall research gave some interesting insights, which could be a topic for another blog. The question number 3 – ‘How was the TA engaged with you in the process?’ – clearly indicated on certain aspects of the process that also talks about the company. This in a way could be a deal maker or a deal breaker for many candidates.

During my B-School days, I came across an interesting concept of viewing the operations of an organization as an Elephant or a Cheetah. This concept was introduced to me by our professor, who has gone ahead and now published a full book on it. You can order your copy here if you wish to learn an interesting take on the Operations Strategy of an org.

The responses for question number 3 took me back to those days in the class when this concept was first introduced to me.

Very briefly, an elephant organization is the one that focuses on maximizing capacity utilization without compromising on its quality metrics.

A cheetah organization is the one that understands the cost of time, so acts swiftly and relies more and more on custom approach while serving its different customers.

In real word, one can see it as Elephant feeds on grass and knows that the grass will not run away. So, it paces its eating, slowly or rather at will.  While Cheetah knows that it has to go and hunt for food every day. Every single day it doesn’t go for hunting or every single time it is unsuccessful in capturing its prey, it knows that some other cheetah or any other animal would feed on its potential food.

Consequently, Elephant is slower as it doesn’t need to be faster. Cheetah is faster as it cant afford to be slow.

The responses to the question number 3 above gave me some information to assess the nature of the company. This can be a good indicator for one to evaluate whether they want to work there or not.

I made an attempt with development of a 2 by 2 matrix based on ‘Company growth’ and ‘Recruiter Engagement’. See below. I also expanded the discussion from Elephants and Cheetahs to add a couple of more analogies from the animal kingdom to assess the companies.

The 2*2 matrix for company classification based on Growth and Recruiter Engagement

Now let’s look at this matrix and see what can we learn from it.

  • Generally, people are attracted towards the Elephant as it promises growth and has a huge brand name. This makes it an easy winner.
  • Cheetah also sits on the top of the aspirational list of individuals as it provides everything that an Elephant offers but is not a known name.
  • For Cheetah, the recruiter (and in typically even the hiring manager) becomes the torch bearer of the organisation and has additional responsibility to attract, hire and retain the best talent.
  • One can easily avoid the Sloth. Unless, there is nowhere else to go and there are no options on the table. These are the companies that have signboard on their front door saying – ‘Enter at your own risk.’
  • One should also avoid the companies that are behaving like howler monkeys. The challenge with these companies is that the recruiter could build an illusion that may confuse the individual.
  • The monkeys also potentially bait the individual into the organisation. These companies do not have a board with ‘Enter at your own risk’ hanging on their front door. This makes things even more tricky.
  • It’s always difficult to correctly classify the Cheetah and the Howler Monkey kind of organisations.
  • One should be watchful on companies that are big brand names but are low on growth. They are not Elephants then but are howler monkeys.

Below are some tips that can help individuals to rightly identify the organisation per the categorisation above:

  1. For a public listed company, look at its financials, annual reports, stock price movement etc. Do not go by what the recruiter says or what the JD sounds like.
  2. For startups and privately held companies, things become tricky.
    1. Rely on the news on the internet. Find credible sources to validate information.
    1. Reach out to some current and former employees to get a sense of the culture in the organization.
    1. Looks at social media handles of the companies to see what kind of feedback is there in the system.
    1. Look at other job postings of the company in job boards like LinkedIn, Naukri.com to get a sense of the general hiring trend in the company
    1. If possible, reach out to any clients of the company to understand how they work with their customers and partners.
  3. Often people rely on Glassdoor feedbacks. While this is a good start, there are multiple reports of these reviews being paid as well. Some companies pay for positive reviews and some also pay for negative review of their competitors.
  4. A simple and straight forward offer letter is also a great sign of genuineness of the company. Sloths and Howler monkeys may keep things murky even there.
  5. Most importantly, speak to your trusted friends, advisors and mentors before making a decision.

Welcome to the Jungle!

This Time Turner will turn your head

Original Copy Pic

My usual reading habit is to pick up books where I dont have to pay a lot of attention to every minute detail hidden in every line. Instead, I prefer books that give me a general or pattern driven message that I can grasp through a mix of fast and slow reading. Slow reading for passages where I want to pay extra attention to a significant minutiae and skimming through the supporting text.

This habit has served me well over the years as it has helped me to increase my reading capacity. I can read as many as 2-3 books simultaneously and with Audible in the mix, I have added one more. I find this strength of mine, incredible.

However, it also came at a cost. I had to let go of good fiction books. Good fiction writers use strong prose writing and are high on literary content. This requires dedicated reading sessions with full concentration on the book in hand. Many a times, I have struggled to make this kind of commitment.

But few days back, I came across a science-fiction series named ‘The Time-Turner, James Turner Series‘. This book is about a young boy and his adventures in a fictional but believable world.

The book starts with the boy living with his grandmother in Florida. While the teenage boy is still coming to terms with his usual day to day struggles after the loss of his parents, he also learns that he actually belongs to a secret society that is dabbling into radical innovation of the world.

The story then moves to Boston. He moves here along with his friend’s family and grandmother. This leads to a series of discoveries. Thanks to a time machine invented by his father, he learns about his latent abilities but also gets to know that he has a secret twin sister. The story then further goes deeply into a complex situation of three secretive but warring societies, to culminate into multiple revelations in the book ending. I am not going to spill the beans of the whole plot here.

What really amazed me is the level of detail provided by the author in describing his surroundings page after page. The author, Halbert Gladwyn, stitches the whole world with every sentence as if you are standing next to the protagonist boy Turner. The writing is visually very stimulating. The tone is maintained of a youngster laced with curiosity, amazement, remorse when talking about his dead parents and occasionally rebellious to highlight the growing anxiety of youngsters of that age.

The other aspect that the book scores really well is the ease with which the author handles all the complex technological concepts with ease. From holography to detailing the time machine, to discussing concepts of artificial intelligence and even some medical sciences. The author has firm grip on the topic that he has set out to capture the reader’s imagination with. The level of research he may have done is truly remarkable. As I see, while many authors make many assumptions about their audience, Halbert uses the teenage charm of the lead protagonist to give a quick byte into the meaning of the tech he is referring too. He really knows his audience.

I was very much amazed by the imagination of the author about the voice assistants, their snooping nature and the ability to deal with them throughout the book as a whole character. Its actually two characters of voice assistants. A very well handled complexity in the book. In fact, Terra’s, the lady voice assistant, character is handled so well that at multiple occasions you sway from liking an every helpful Terra to fearing her in-built snooping nature.

The book takes a slow start in the beginning. One really needs to concentrate in the first couple of chapters to understand all the series of events that unfold. The pace is just too fast. At least, I felt so. But it could also be due to the handicap I mentioned above. I had to reread this part multiple times.

In the later chapters the pace of events is to my comfort. However, once in a while I felt that the author strayed from the situation into describing the teenage mindset and the dilemmas they face. This got prolonged at times especially when the protagonist engaged in three way discussions with his best friend and his secret twin. But one doesnt get bored and is merely distracted. It takes time to come back to the situation.

The ending came both as a surprise and a bit abrupt. I guess its purposeful to ensure that one gets to see the next one in the series.

The biggest surprise I got is when I learned that the book is written by a Class /Grade X teenager. I usually keep the preface and acknowledgment of the book for the end, just to avoid any kind of bias in my reading of the book. The author says that he started writing it while he was in Class/Grade 8th. I wouldnt have trusted it, like Shahid Afridi’s International Cricket debut age, had I not known the author personally 🙂

Remarkable work for the age indeed.

I would highly recommend reading this book. It certainly will take you to another world and in with the help of the time machine, in another time.

Happy reading!